After his father's death, he was brought up as a ward of court, and educated at Harrow School. He matriculated to Trinity College, Cambridge, but instead of starting his studies he contested the 1868 general election in Cheltenham, but failed to win the seat. He then studied law, and in 1873 he was called to the bar, but never practised law, concentrating instead on his business interests and his political career. He was a magistrate from 1875.
Agg-Gardner was first elected as Cheltenham's MP at the 1874 general election, but was defeated at the 1880 general election. He was re-elected in 1885 and held the seat until he stood down at the 1895 election, possibly for reasons related to his homosexuality. He was returned unopposed at the 1900 general election, but was defeated in the 1906 general election. He was re-elected at the Cheltenham by-election by-election in April 1911, after which he held the seat until death in 1928.
In the House of Commons chamber, he was a rare and poor speaker, but served for most of his career on the Commons Kitchen Committee, which he chaired from 1917. In that role, he supervised the daily tea on the terrace, and was known affectionately as the "Minister of the Interior". He sponsored the bill which conferred borough status on Cheltenham, and in 1896 was made the first freeman of the borough. He also introduced bills on fire escapes (1891) and hire purchase (1928).
He was knighted in 1916, and appointed a Privy Councillor in 1924. By the time of his death in 1928, aged 81, he was the oldest serving Member of Parliament, having sat with ten Prime Ministers, from Disraeli to Baldwin. However, because he was not continuously an MP, he did not hold the title of Father of the House.
- Sir James Agg-Gardner, Some Parliamentary Recollections by the Right Honourable Sir James Agg-Gardner, PC, MP (London: E. J. Burrow, 1927)
- http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/53505 Richard Davenport-Hines, "Gardner, Sir James Tynte Agg- (1846–1928)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
Based on a Wikipedia article.
- http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,881215-2,00.html "Milestones", Time Magazine, 20 August 1928 (Registration required)
- http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/no-longer-outraged-1185163.html Richard Davenport-Hines, "No longer outraged", The Independent, 15 November 1998
- London Gazette issue 29671, page 7093, 18 July 1916
- http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveViewFrameSetup.asp?webType=0&PageDuplicate=x0%20%20%20%20%20%20&issueNumber=32906&pageNumber=0&SearchFor=agg-gardner&selMedalType=&selHonourType London Gazette (Supplement) issue 32906' page=1261 8 February 1924[= London Gazette: 8 February 1924]